Not all silence on mental health problems is down to stigma. Sometimes it’s difficult to articulate what’s wrong.

You can’t talk about mental health without talking about stigma. Personally, I don’t like talking about stigma – the more you talk about something, the more you entrench it. People often cite fear of stigma as the reason they don’t talk about their mental illness, but I think it runs deeper than that.

Before I was anorexic I’d always assumed people with mental illness knew they weren’t well. But on reflection that’s ridiculous. My Dad has diabetes. He had it for years before anyone realised and no one expected him to innately know. Sometimes you’re too close to your own life to gain perspective; it’s like trying to make sense of a painting if you’re only inches from it.

It’s really hard to find the words to describe my anorexia – it was more of a feeling, a lacking, an awareness I wasn’t really coping. I didn’t know I was doing this any more than you know you are breathing right now. It was just something I did, a process. I didn’t realise how different aspects of my thinking were entwined with my eating disorder – calorie counting, anxiety, mood swings, lack of attention span, lack of sex drive, constant coldness. That’s why it took me so long to ask for help.

– Dave Chawner

Read more: From A Teenage Boy With Anorexia

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